Republic of Ireland airspace has been frequently visited by Russian fighters recently. The Irish government wants to put an end to these visits. It also wants to be less dependent on British Royal Air fighters to defend its sovereignty.
The Irish Air Corps has had no combat jet since 1998, when the Light Strike Squadron, operating on second-hand French Fouga CM170 Magister, was disbanded. The corps also lacks a national radar system.
To address the increasing threat to its sovereignty; the Irish Department of Defence said it was studying a possible acquisition of “air combat interceptor” as well as a “primary radar system”, in a five-year investment program for its armed forces entitled Equipment Development Plan.
“The assessment would consider the demands that may be made of such interceptors and the military capabilities it would be expected to be able to supply,” a spokesperson of the Ministry told the Irish Times. Ireland may acquire at least 16 combat aircraft. Along with the formation of enough pilots to be operational 24/7, the program is estimated to cost €1 billion.